Many agents call them Preferred Vendors. You recommend them to do a client’s pest inspections, home inspections, trash out, house cleaning, landscaping… Whatever they need. And yes, they are vendors. But they’re your affiliates.
Whatever label you attach to this group of people, do you have any idea how they’re representing you?
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But you trust them, right?
“A Preferred vendors list you are able to easily share with your clients is something they will remember you by,” according to Florida agent Will Caldwell, writing at Inman.com.
But, unless you keep tabs on the folks that populate that preferred vendors list, those memories may turn out to be nightmares.
A couple of years ago I was tasked with selling my childhood home in Hawaii. My agent was someone I have known for decades, who just happens to be the top agent in town. So, not only was there a great amount of personal trust in her, but professional as well.
Naturally, she chose the escrow company.
Sadly, the escrow officer screwed up the paperwork from day one
The officer was blatantly and incomprehensibly unqualified for the job. She didn’t overnight it to my sister on the mainland (the joint seller of the home) in time to close. When it finally was overnighted, it was sent with the wrong paperwork. She never even returned one of my phone calls.
Then, there’s the story about a woman in Las Vegas whose listing agent decided to hold an open house on a day that he was otherwise engaged. So, he enlisted the help of another agent in his office to hold the home open, and contacted his preferred lender to tag along.
It was a holiday weekend so only one potential buyer viewed the home. But, it was a good one – the owner of a popular local restaurant.
After touring the home, the potential buyer stopped to ask the agent some questions, whereupon the lender’s representative interrupted to let the buyer know that “the new builds down the street are offering 4 percent to 5 percent rebates.”
Without the home’s security system (with audio, no less), the Vegas homeowner would’ve never known about her agent’s lender steering her open house attendees to the new construction site down the street.
Let that sink in for a minute
Imagine this is your listing and this lender is someone on your “preferred vendor list.” Imagine your client seeing and hearing the interaction.
Now, in neither of these examples was the agent directly at fault, but in both, the agent bore the brunt of the experience. I lost all trust in my old friend and will think twice about recommending her to anyone. The Vegas homeowner fired her agent.
Well-vetted preferred vendors are trusted ones
When looking for new or replacement affiliates, don’t be like the majority of real estate consumers who go with the first agent they interview. Ask around the office to get names of tradespeople that other agents have good luck with. But, don’t stop there.
Add to the list of interviewees by checking reviews on Yelp and ratings at the Better Business Bureau. Check the vendor’s social media sites.
Due diligence isn’t just for your clients
Then, continue the due diligence throughout the entirety of your relationship with the vendor.
Make the time to follow up
You can be doing everything right in your real estate practice – have the most impeccable customer service system in place – yet what your affiliates do, and don’t do, is a direct reflection of your professionalism.
And, if you either don’t monitor them, or, worse yet, remain loyal to them despite shoddy work or behavior (which was the case with the Vegas agent), it is you who will end up losing, not the affiliate.
It’s imperative that you check in with clients after recommending someone to them. Ask how they were treated and, if the feedback is negative, speak with the vendor. Ask for his or her side of the transaction.
If you have any qualms about retaining that name on the list, get rid of it. And always discontinue working with anyone who turns out to be a repeat offender.
Regardless of how you feel about someone personally, don’t allow them to sully your professional reputation.
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Making good connections goes beyond preferred vendors. Learn more about networking in this video:
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